(2000–1500 B.C.)
   According to the Assyrian King List, the first 17 Assyrian kings “lived in tents,” which means that they were little more than tribal leaders or sheikhs who dominated the region around the cities of Nineveh and Assur. One of these, Kikkiya, was said to have built a wall around Assur (around 2000 B.C.).
   Little historical information exists from the early period, and most documents concern mercantile enterprises outside Assyria. Assur became the base for a network of commercial activities that centered on the import of tin from the east (via intermediaries) and an intense import-export business with central Anatolia (tradingMesopotamian textiles against silver and copper).
   There was a break in the succession of Assyrian kings after the reign of Erishum II when the Amorite leader Shamshi-Addu (I) (reigned c. 1813–c. 1781), who originated from the west of Assur, acceded to the throne, having deposed Erishum. During his long reign of 32 years, he greatly enlarged his territory by attacking Babylonian cities, such as Sippar and Babylon, seizing control of Mari and the Habur valley with Shubat-Enlil. He controlled all the Assyrian cities, including Ekallate, Nineveh, and Assur, and the Tigris valley right up to the Zagros and farther south toward Elam. After his death, most of the conquered territories were lost, and Assyria remained a small north Mesopotamian kingdom until it became reduced to a vassal state of the powerful Mitanni following a raid by king Shaushtatar around 1500 B.C.
   See also OLD ASSYRIAN.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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